Less coal, more natural gas coming for DTE Energy ...

Less coal, more natural gas coming for DTE Energy customers

In 2023, we can expect to see less coal and more natural gas powering Metro Detroit as DTE Energy is set to retire three of its coal plants as part of a settlement agreement with the Sierra Club and the EPA announced in May. The three plants represent 20% of DTE’s power capacity. 

Currently, DTE’s energy portfolio is approximately 64 percent coal, 19 percent nuclear, nine percent natural gas, and eight percent renewables. 

The 1,100-megawatt natural gas-powered Blue Water Energy Center located at the Belle River Power Plant site St. Clair will start generating in 2022 and,in combination with additional renewables, replace generation lost by the three plant retirements, according to Micah Ragland, Director of Corporate Communications at DTE Energy.

With this transition, DTE will cut carbon emissions by 32 percent compared to its 2005 levels, the company said. By 2023 DTE Energy plans to add 90 megawatts of solar and 859 megawatts of wind power. 

“This deeply lags behind [DTE Energy’s] counterparts at Consumers Energy who have already committed to building 6,000 MW of solar and not building any new gas plants,” Mike Berkowitz,  a legislative and political director at the Sierra Club Michigan Chapter, wrote in an email.

According to Consumers Energy’s website, its current portfolio is 22 percent coal, nine percent nuclear, 36 percent natural gas, and 11 percent renewables. 

“I love solar, but it does not serve our energy needs today,” said Edward Rivet, executive director of the Michigan Conservative Energy Forum. “The gas plant is necessary; the renewables we have are intermittent and we do not have storage.” 

Rivet, a proponent of renewables, feels it’s in everyone’s best interest to switch to cleaner and cheaper energy as soon as possible, but says people don’t understand the timeline. “We’re looking at a whole new paradigm, but it’s not going to happen overnight.”  

Some disagree. According to the Union of Concerned Scientists explainer on energy storage, “the existing grid can accommodate a sizable increase in variable generation”. 

The cost of the new gas plant and financial burden on DTE customers will be reviewed in future rate cases that are filed with the Michigan Public Service Commission. 
To read more about DTE’s upcoming plans, check out their Integrated Resource Plan click here.